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Windows Server 2008 R2 : Server-to-Client Remote Access and DirectAccess - Connection Manager

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The connection manager allows VPN administrators to deploy an easy-to-use, preconfigured interface for their end users.
  • Connection Manager Client Dialer

  • Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK)

The Connection Manager (CM) client dialer is installed on the VPN clients, whereas the CMAK can be installed anywhere and be used to generate the CM profiles.

Connection Manager Client Dialer

The Connection Manager client dialer is software that is installed on each remote access client. It includes advanced features that make it a superset of basic dial-up and VPN networking. CM simplifies the client configuration for the users by enabling them to do the following:

  • Select from a list of phone numbers or IP addresses to use, based on physical location.

  • Use customized graphics, icons, messages, and help.

  • Automatically create a dial-up connection before the VPN connection is made.

  • Run custom actions during various parts of the connection process, such as preconnect and postconnect actions.

A customized CM client dialer package (CM profile) is a self-extracting executable file created by the CMAK. The CM profile can be distributed to VPN users via CD-ROM, email, website, or file share. The CM profile automatically configures the appropriate dial-up and VPN connections. The Connection Manager profile does not require a specific version of Windows and will run on the following platforms: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows Millennium Edition.

Connection Manager Administration Kit

The Connection Manager Administration Kit (CMAK) enables administrators to preconfigure the appearance and behavior of the CM. With CMAK, client dialer and connection software allow users to connect to the network using only the connection features that are defined for them. CMAK also enables administrators to build profiles customizing the Connection Manager Installation package sent to remote access users.

The CMAK feature is installed independent of any Windows Server 2008 R2 roles. To install CMAK, add the CMAK feature by following these steps:

1.
On the server that will generate the CM profiles, launch Server Manager.

2.
Click on Add Features to launch the wizard.

3.
Select Connection Manager Administration Kit, and click Next.

4.
Click Install.

5.
Click Close.

To use the CMAK to create CM profiles, you run the CMAK wizard. To create a profile, execute the following steps:

1.
Select Start, Administrative Tools, and click Connection Manager Administration Kit.

2.
Click Next.

3.
Select the operating system for the target client (in this case, Windows 7 or Windows Vista) and click Next.

4.
Select New Profile and click Next.

5.
Enter a service name—in this example, Company ABC VPN.

6.
Enter a filename (in this example, abcvpn) and click Next. The filename must be eight characters or less.

7.
Select Add a Realm Name to the User Name to enter a domain name.

8.
Enter the FQDN of the Active Directory domain (in this example, companyabc.com) and click Next.

9.
Click Next to skip merging information from other profiles.

10.
Select the Phone Book from this Profile check box to add support for VPN connection.

11.
Select the Always Use the Same VPN Server option button in the VPN server name or IP address section.

12.
Enter the VPN server’s external FQDN or IP address, which is vpn1.companyabc.com in this example.

Note

The CMAK supports multiple addresses for VPN servers. A text file of the various addresses must be created in the proper format. The Allow the User to Choose a VPN Server Before Connecting check box is selected and the text file is imported using the Browse button.

13.
Click Next.

14.
Click Next.

15.
Uncheck the Automatically Download Phone Book Updates check box, and click Next.

16.
Click Next.

17.
Click Next to skip the routing table updates configuration.

18.
Click Next to skip the proxy configuration.

19.
Click Next to skip the custom actions.

20.
Click Next to accept the default logon graphic.

21.
Click Next to accept the default phone book graphic.

22.
Click Next to accept the default icons.

23.
Click Next to leave the default Help file.

24.
Enter the custom support number for users to dial when experiencing problems connecting, and click Next.

25.
Click Next to skip the import of a custom licensing agreement.

26.
Click Next to skip the import of additional files.

27.
Click Next to build the profile.

28.
Note the directory where the profile was saved—in this example, c:\Program Files\CMAK\Profiles\Windows 7 and Windows Vista\abcvpn\abcvpn.exe.

29.
Click Finish to close the wizard.

The profile executable is now ready to be distributed to clients and executed to create the Company ABC VPN Connection. This example was relatively simple, but for many organizations, the ability to add various customizations such as the Help file, licensing agreement, or predefined VPN addresses will help drive down support costs.

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